On 5 October 2020, an International theological on-line conference took place entitled "Eschatological Community: Faith, Ministry, and Prophetic Witness in a Changing World."
The conference was organized by the European Baptist Federation, the East European Institute of Theology, the Fellowship of European Evangelical Theologians, Odessa Theological Seminary (Evangelical Christians-Baptists), Spurgeon's College, and the Anabaptist Mennonite Network. During the conference issues were discussed concerning the Church's self-understanding as an eschatological community, the prophetic witness of the Church in the midst of the technocratic crisis of civilization, and the eschatological presence of Christ in liturgical practices. Also examined were the challenges with which theological education is faced in the context of the radical transformation of forms of social interaction and the search for educational strategies in the post-industrial world. Among the presenters were distinguished international (Tony Peck, Ian Randall, Anthony Cross) and national (Sergii Sannikov, Mykhailo Cherenkoff, Yuri Chornomorets, Ludmyla Fylypovych) theologians and philosophers. It is no accident that the conference took place on 5 October. That day was the 70th birthday of the well-known Ukrainian Baptist theologian, historian, and educator, Doctor of Philosophy Sergii Viktorovich Sannikov. Therefore, one of the main purposes of the conference was to celebrate the life journey and creative accomplishments of the honoree. Acknowledging the significant contribution of Sergii Sannikov to the development of Baptist and Evangelical theology as a whole, the presenters entered into dialogue with his views on the methodological basis of theology and the sacramental dimension of Church life, the understanding of the missional nature of the Church, and the interpretation of the East European Evangelical tradition. The papers that were presented are part of a book which was presented during the conference ( Encountering the Mystery: Essays in Honor of the 70th Birthday of S. V. Sannikov – Editors: A. Geichenko, T. Dyatlik, M. Raber, J. T. Searle, R. Soloviy – Rivne: PP "Format-A," 2020). In addition, the conference participants shared personal reflections and memories of the academic work, ministry, and Christian experience of Sergii Sannikov.
The conference organizers hope that this event and the appearance of the book will not only stimulate theological thought, but will also serve as a reminder that it is essential to cultivate active gratitude, memory, and recognition. No one is forgotten by God; therefore, we also must not forget the people who have contributed to our spiritual, intellectual, and professional formation. For the Church is not only a community of faith, ministry, and prophetic witness, but also a fellowship of memory that for centuries has carefully preserved the memory of her saints, martyrs, and teachers. By refusing to relegate our predecessors to oblivion, we acknowledge ourselves to be not only members of local congregations or confessional groups, but also part of the great tradition of faith, once delivered to the saints. Within the framework of this tradition, we find solid ground from which to discern the contemporary world prophetically and to look to the future with hope.
Conference organizing committee and editorial group: Oleksander Geichenko, Taras Dyatlik, Mary Raber, Joshua T. Searle, Roman Soloviy.